Perfect Parenting Moments


Perfect parenting moments... 

Those times when you feel your purpose is crystal clear, when your heart almost bursts... Like you're the only person in the world for the job and you're succeeding at it... That you're needed, wanted, appreciated, loved. 

They don't happen every day but when they do, it makes all the rest worthwhile. All the trials and tribulations of the occasionally monotonous day to day life, the frustration, anger, impatience and exasperation, all those sleepless nights over the years... They suddenly pale into insignificance when you are right there in the moment, as the only person your child needs. 

It could be rolling around on the floor together laughing, singing a silly song, reading a story and actively engaging in a stimulating conversation, going for a walk in the rain, being there for cuddles when they are ill or in pain or simply watching them BE

Our children can and should love many people - family, friends, teachers, neighbours. It is part of our job as parents to support and encourage these relationships, but sometimes only Mummy will do and that is quite a heartwarming, empowering feeling. 

There are many mornings when I wake up with both girls cuddled in bed with me and I feel like crying happy tears. For that brief, precious period of time before we have to get up and start our day, I am occasionally so overcome with parenting joy that I could die happy there and then – obviously I don't really want to (and sadly it can pass very quickly) but that's how perfect the moment seems! 

Some days, I have to remind myself to stop and just watch them... Sit quietly, breathe and take in the wonder of these children we've created. They are so full of life!  Simply bursting with joyful energy, wide-eyed wonder and untarnished enthusiasm for the world. They truly are the best thing in my life.  

Lucy woke up last night in tears suffering from growing pains in her knees. I had them for years as a child so could fully empathize with the agonizing pain. I gave her medicine, cuddled her on the sofa, read her a story and rubbed her knees... She said I had magic hands because I made her better! Who was I to argue that it was paracetamol not parental touch that did the trick? I was happy to have provided some maternal magic and quietly relished the compliment. Mummy is a superhero!  

I had a similar surge of parenting pride when we went to visit Arabella's new school the other day. After leaving she said: "Mummy, do I really have to be happy on my first day?" I told her it was ok to feel however she wanted. She could be scared, sad, worried, nervous or excited if she felt like it... I would be there for her at the end of the day regardless of how it went.  

I love love LOVE those precious, perfect parenting moments. They are a reminder of what motherhood is all about! There is so much negativity out there and so many articles circulate about the struggles, strains and downside of parenthoodBut not enough gets said about the overwhelming joy and sense of purpose that also comes with the job! By searching for the small, special moments and recognising them when they come along, you become more aware and they happen more often... Try it, it's true!

Not only do these moments provide huge personal satisfaction, but they are also extremely beneficial to your children. They build up their self-esteem, increase their sense of being loved and add to the happy childhood memories they'll carry with them into adulthood... Everybody wins. As long as these moments outweigh any disastrous ones, I have faith that they'll grow up as happy, well-adjusted, well-rounded individuals. (And hopefully won't need therapy one day!) 

I am so grateful for the joy of being a mother and for my beautiful family. Every single night Lucy holds on to me so tight, begging me to stay with her forever, smiling up at me with the biggest sunshine eyes and grin I can't resist - and I try not to cry as I remind myself these days are limited. Similarly, Arabella still bursts into fits of tears if one of us leaves the house without giving her "kiss-cuddles"... They are growing up so fast and soon the day will come when they're too cool for cuddles outside school, they prefer to read to themselves, turn out their own lights and just shout goodnight from the end of the hall...  

Until then though, I will collect as many kisses and cuddles as I can, read stories till I'm hoarse, sing silly songs, run along the beach and spend as many hours as I can just watching them play and explore. It is these little things that make up a lifetime.

I wish all of you parents out there at least one perfect moment each day. Watch your kids, dance in the rain, read a whole pile of books at once, build a den, stay for that extra bedtime cuddle, kiss them endlessly... They will thank you for it with love!

Happy Parenting, 

Love Holly x 

Question: What perfect parenting moments have you experienced lately? What are your favourite things about being a parent? 

 

 

I Don't Like to Say "I Told You So".... But I Told You So


 Sorry kids!

Sorry kids!

Confession: If any of you saw or indeed more likely heard a short blonde woman leaving school with an out of control, screaming, curly haired preschooler this afternoon, yes it was me - I apologise for the noise! I wasn't smiling, but I was holding my head high just getting on with the business of picking up my other daughter from school, trying not to make a scene (Lucy was taking care of that on her own) and instead heading out with as much grace as one possibly can whilst juggling school bags and an increasingly heavy sobbing child, just attempting to get through the gates and across the road.  I had no reason to pander to her emotions and no cause for hanging my head in shame - I wasn't the parent this time whose child had fallen off a bench and hurt herself while my back was turned. You know you've been there.

Today has been a classic day of I hate to say I told you so ... But I actually did tell you so! I know this is a phrase that is frowned upon amongst parenting experts and I use it very rarely, but it goes along with everything we are trying to work on with the girls this month. We have always talked a lot about values, behaviour and how to treat others and we use storybooks, kids movies and everyday events as points of reference and discussion. The wonderful Kindergarten that both our girls have attended has done a fantastic job at highlighting some very crucial values and Lucy has been learning the sign language signs for them, which she's been teaching us at home. So to expand on these (and after a slightly embarrassing behavioural incident with our number 1 daughter that clearly proved we'd missed a step somewhere) we decided that we would start discussing one value a month in ways they would understand, talking about what they meant, finding activities to practice these and examples of people demonstrating said value or behaviour in books or movies that are relevant to them. (Incidentally, this will be a monthly feature that I will expand upon at the end of each month to pass on anything we've learned!)

August is RESPECT month in the Potter household... Arabella came up with the idea of writing the word in capital letters on a sheet of paper on the fridge and every time they think of another thing that is a way of showing respect (or of something not to do), she writes it on. It has been slowly evolving and the list is growing. Not that we've had overnight success or anything but I feel that practice and perseverance will pay off! 

So this morning on the way to school we were talking about listening. Arabella said: "This is actually very confusing Mummy, I don't know why I listen to my teacher when she asks me to do something but I don't listen to you and Daddy at home." You think? She followed up with: "Maybe it's because I'm just always so busy doing stuff at home? I'll think about it for a while." I was slightly stumped at the way her analytical brain had suddenly kicked in and all I could say was: "Yes that's an exceptionally good idea, why don't you think about it for a while..." Then we arrived at school.

Next stop was Kindergarten where Lucy's discussion would begin... Now we've always had a rule that yes they can take a teddy in the car, but teddies need to stay in the car. We know from experience that these get lost, misplaced, forgotten or simply temporarily abandoned as Lucy's first favourite Lamby did - she spent a very cosy evening having a sleepover at our local department store until we staged a rescue mission the following morning to recover the mischievous sheep! This was after a fairly torturous bedtime routine and a very miserable night that unfortunately some new friends had to witness. She has also more recently lost her all time favourite bear, Fudge - many, many, many sad bedtimes! Anyway, just another parenting lesson you pick up along the way. Back to the story at hand...

This morning Lucy was in a debating mood and decided to push her luck - anyone who knows Lucy (apart from those that perhaps saw her for the first time this afternoon) will attest to the fact that she is a very happy & delightful little thing and like Puss in Boots from Shrek, she can turn on the big eyes and sweet smile better than anyone. So it didn't take long for me to give in to her proposition that she be allowed to carry her teddy "Jellybean" into Kindy and I'd then be able to bring him back out to the car with me. I know I know, I should have known better but I'm a particular sucker for her charms and cuddly ways. Off we went and when it was time to say goodbye, I told her to give Jellybean to me so that he could be safe in the car till I met her at school later. I reminded her that her carer would be picking her up, she'd be at her house for a couple of hours, in her car and then coming to school, so there were numerous points along the way at which Jellybean could go astray. She was having none of it and even a friendly discussion with one of her teachers about teddy being better off with me wouldn't persuade her. In an effort to prove her reliability she came up with the suggestion of putting him straight in her bag and not taking him out all day. I knew it would probably go wrong but sometimes you just have to let them learn their own lessons...

Needless to say, it dawned on Lucy that she'd left Jellybean behind just at the minute the bell rang and I don't know whether she was more upset by the fact that he was missing or the fact that indeed, sometimes, Mummy does know best! Perhaps amongst all the sobbing she was quietly thinking "Thank you Mummy for letting me learn my own lovely lesson!"

I reassured any concerned fellow parents that she was fine, that she was just having a bit of a learning experience and that it would all blow over. It wasn't the end of the world but I guarantee there won't be any arguments tomorrow about leaving her chosen teddy in the car. And perhaps, just perhaps the whole listening to parents thing might have sunk in a little bit... When we got home the first thing she did was ask Arabella to write on the chart "Respect our toys and things and don't lose them." Job done I'd say!

Have you been the mum at the school gates or supermarket checkout with the screaming child? I salute you for remaining calm and want to assure you that it indeed does happen to everybody at some point.

Happy Parenting,

Love Holly x

Hit & Miss... But It All Comes Out in the Wash


This morning has been anything but lovely. Lucy projectile vomited all over herself, me, the sofa, our fluffy rug, the living room carpet, kitchen floor, cabinets & even the dishwasher... It took her so much by surprise (she was lying down at the time, pretty shattered from being sick 2x in the night) that it went in her eyes and all through her hair! She was so upset about her face and all the mess, that I had to ensure her it was fine and I'd clean it all up after I'd got her changed. We got her new pjs on and settled her onto the other sofa with her Koala and a snuggly blanket and as I scrubbed the floor on my hands and knees in puke stained pjs, I saw her eyelids getting heavier as she watched me clean. I wonder what thoughts, if any, were going through her head?  

As for me, once she drifted off I just had to sit for a minute, take it all in, breathe and decide where to start after scraping up one particularly large lot! It was like a flashback to the very first time that I realised how all consuming parenting is and the extent of my responsibilities as a mother...  
 
Arabella was about 8 months at the time. Simon was out at work, she'd had the biggest case of diarrhoea in her nappy and as I was trying to clean her up and change her on the changing mat on the floor, she whipped over and proceeded to scamper off giggling, as if leaving her slightly frazzled mother sitting in the middle of the floor whilst smearing poo all across the carpet was the most hilarious thing in the world. Granted we have joked about it since, but at the time I was severely unamused!! I rang Simon in distress - what I thought he could possibly do at the time I have no idea - and he was less sympathetic than I'd hoped, clearly only seeing the funny side that was so evident to his mischievous little offspring! "What do I do??" I said... "Well, you'll just have to clean it up!" he said with a not so subtle hint of amusement in his voice. It was at that moment I suddenly realised it was just me, no knight in shining armour riding in, no fairy godmother to wave her wand, and I would indeed just have to deal with it. It's never described in any Mummy manuals or fairy tales that this is occasionally what it will come to, but it was an eye opening lesson indeed! Perhaps I should share it with both of my sisters, one who's just had her first baby and the other who is about to pop out her first, but that just seems mean really and until you've experienced it firsthand, I guess you'd never fully understand... 
 
So anyway here I was, years later, back on my hands & knees scrubbing the carpets & cleaning the furniture, trying not to gag on the smell and trying not to cry - less about the mess and more about my poor little poppet who by now was asleep, completely exhausted, on the other sofa. And as anyone who's been in a similar situation knows, sick is like broken glass - it gets everywhere! Just when you think you've got it all, you spot some more much further away than you'd think it would travel.... And if you don't manage to spot it, you'll definitely smell it later! 
 
Now I'm sitting for a few minutes contemplating what if anything to learn from this experience. I've got a bucket full of clothes soaking as the washing machine is already full of last nights sheets & teddies (ripped out of sleep at 1am to be covered in sick is a whole other parenting torture that newbies must discover in their own time!), wet carpets, a sleeping daughter on the sofa, hair that definitely needs washing and a sense that I'm sure I've missed a spot somewhere. Perhaps I should just breathe and be grateful for this miracle of life... We may not be a lovely sight today, but we have each other and I suppose at the end of the day that's the most important thing. Or perhaps I just remind myself that sometimes things get thrown at us in an attempt to unhinge us, but if we deal with them straight away, quietly, confidently and gracefully (well as graceful as possible with sick in your hair!), we can return to our path and get on with life. My pursuit continues...  

 Happily hanging out to dry, blissfully unaware of the ordeal they've been through!

Happily hanging out to dry, blissfully unaware of the ordeal they've been through!

Note to self though: if you have an ill child, always, always, ALWAYS keep a bowl or bucket to hand! (And have plenty of towels, sheets, kitchen roll and wipes available.)  

Have you had a similarly eye opening motherhood moment? What has been your lowest parenting point and what wisdom, if any, could you share with the rest of us? 

Thanks, 

Love Holly x 
 
PS: The lesson I actually learned from this is that you can't always control your situation and what life throws at you, but you can control how you react, what you choose to do about it and how you let yourself feel about itIn other words, When life seems out of control, do something you can control! After I'd finally finished the clean up I made the beds, hung out the laundry, cleaned the bathroom, got myself washed & dressedput on some mascara, had a cup of tea, typed up this post then looked around and realised that everything seemed to have settled. It all came out in the wash and I knew tomorrow would be a whole new day. Once Lucy woke up she felt a bit better so we crafted a card for Daddy and then while she lay looking at books, I managed to bake some cookies to fill our tiny home with a sense of comfort (and help disguise the smell!) By completing small tasks, as menial and mundane as some of them may seem, I felt more in control and that small sense of accomplishment became the defining factor of my day instead of the sick-bomb that ruled most of the morning.  

I HATE SHOUTING!!


I hate shouting at my children. Actually hate it. Hate myself for doing it, hate that I was brought up being shouted at, hate that I've once again - despite all my efforts at remaining the calm, patient parent - failed to break the cycle and handle things better... My daughters are inherently so sweet, kind and loving (which are traits we've successfully managed to teach them), but how can I possibly hope to convince them that shouting isn't ok when I can't seem to stop myself from doing it? There's a quote that used to be stuck to my wall that said something like "If you don't want your children to see you do it, hear you say it, copy you & tell everyone else you did it, then don't do it!" Hmm, perhaps I need to stick it back on my wall.

I try to be calm, patient, kind and understanding of their inquisitive playful nature but occasionally they just push me to the edge. I give them a few minutes warning, then I ask them nicely, then I explain it's time to leave (or whatever) and ask again, then I tell them a bit more sternly but after 4 times of requesting they get dressed/put their shoes on/pack their bags/sit up at the table etc I just get exasperated. I know they are not purposefully trying to wind me up but nevertheless, they so often do. And then I shout, they get upset, I get upset and then hate myself a little more... The cycle continues! I actually caught sight of myself in the mirror one day shouting at them and even scared myself! I had morphed from the kind, loving, lovely mother that I try to be into the freaky dragon lady. Very unlovely indeed...

I stopped immediately, apologized to the girls, sat down, gave them a cuddle and tried to explain that Mummys sometimes just get so cross of asking and asking and asking and asking the same thing... And of course I told them that I didn't like shouting at them. To which my ever wise 6yr old said "It's ok Mummy, we still love you and we'll get our shoes on right now." Grrrr. You can read as many parenting books, magazines & articles as you like but nothing prepares you for the reality of how far your own children will actually push you to the edge. We are all human and I'm sure even my most zen, calm friends must crack occasionally in the privacy of their own homes - at least I comfort myself with the thought that they do.

I've been occasionally complimented by strangers for either having perfectly delightful children or on the flipside not being afraid to discipline them in public, but as much as I'm fine with being a strict, firm but fair parent, I say it again.... I hate shouting!

I do believe that as much as it is our duty and responsibility to teach our children the lessons they'll need to lead successful happy lives, we must also humbly accept the fact that some of our greatest lessons will come from our children. For me personally, patience is something I must work on daily... So girls, I thank you for the lesson, but for today it's back to school for me!!

What lessons are your children teaching you today? What are you struggling with or trying to master?

Love Holly x